Earlier this week, Sessions brought to our attention an article in New York magazine about Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church here in New York City. For a brief summary of the article, see what Sessions said. He nailed it. A synopsis of the article, or my thoughts on the article, or, really, the article itself is not my purpose for adding my voice into the commentary this evening.

Rather, I’d like to draw your attention to the extended conversation that follows the story, beginning on November 29, presumably minutes after the article was published by someone identified as “Scottrose” and carried on until, as of this writing, 2PM on Wednesday. There should be no doubt that the number of comments will continue to grow steadily from the current 133 posted.

As is typically the case with the comments section on an article (see our reason behind not implementing this feature on articles here, or just read a few of the comments on the New York article) a minor point in the piece, the fact that Redeemer and Keller are conservative on issues such as gay marriage and abortion, was elevated to essential.

We have Scottrose to thank for that as he began the commentary by observing that, “Perpetuating anti-gay bigotry through religious beliefs is hateful and wrong.”

In the fourteen pages that follow, the issue of homosexuality is batted around, along with  gender roles, abortion, intolerance, human rights, hermeneutics and other hot button issues that played minor roles in the actual reporting.

As one might expect, there are far more bashers than defenders and, as one commenter pointed out, the defenders of the faith (not all, of course) are showing a great deal of grace under heavy fire. “I knew that there was a lot of arrogance, condescension and hate on the part of many on the religious right toward mainstream, secular people. But I had no idea that so many who seem to value tolerance and diversity were just as arrogant, condescending and hateful toward people of faith.”

Much of the action is taking place between the various defenders of the faith, or at least, of Keller, commenters like “Artist103” and “Bfitch,” and their antagonists such as the ubiquitous “Somegal” and our old buddy “Scottrose.” And there are the centrists, appearing for a brief moment to say reasonable things like “Why isn’t anyone commenting on Keller’s main point?

That is precisely where I fall in this whole mess. And, no, I haven’t thrown myself into the fray, so no need to try to think what my screenname might be. (If I did get in there, I’d be Supa_Soulja4DaTruth_777.)

The conversation happening at NYmag.com completely misses the point, is like spinning tires and will eventually run out of gas. Nobody will be convinced of anything they didn’t already believe. And, in these kinds of debates, no one gets to win so much as gets to be seen. This is hardly a reason to debate.

Yet, a few years ago Supa_Soulja4DaTruth_777 might have shown up to argue. This is not a denunciation of the Christians on the forum so vehemently defending their faith, their church and their pastor; actually you can almost feel the restraint and conscious effort to answer with love and respect. One commenter went so far as to offer to accompany a couple of the detractors to a Redeemer service and then out for a drink to discuss.

Nor is it my intention to condemn the unbelieving commenters or belittle their issues with Christianity. If anyone is implicated here it is the people on either side slinging mud across the divide.

So, after all of this, 14 pages of comments, what is the takeaway as they like to say at Redeemer?

Umh. I … don’t … know? Your thoughts?

 
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Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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0 Responses to What’s So Controversial About Tim Keller?

  1. Chris says:

    He’s controversial because the article referred to him as an “evangelical”. That means he’s a fundamentalist, fire and brimstone, hateful, not-caring-about-the-poor, multi-screen Dobsonesque neo-con. They’re projecting the worst stereotypes of evangelicalism onto him. If they would have referred to him as Rev. Tim Keller, Presbyterian minister, I bet the rhetoric wouldn’t be nearly as shrill.

  2. William says:

    “I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing one another by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting one another.” –Thomas Jefferson

  3. Jess P says:

    I read the article mentioned and also through most of the comments earlier today. I used to attend Redeemer and have to say that Keller’s preaching was the final blow to my evangelical fundamentalism (what was remaining).

    Something I learned from Keller is that peace comes not from tolerance but from loving those who do not share your beliefs. I think people on both sides should be aware of that.

    I could tell the writer of the article was hinting that Tim is just a Evangelical Fundy in New York City clothing and that his draw is not the message he preaches, but his smarts. I’d like to know what Dr. Keller thought about the article.

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